Kathmandu, June 11: The Department of Roads (DoR) has spent about Rs 3 billion in the construction, expansion and repair of roads across the country during the two-month lockdown. Of the total, around 15 per cent was spent in the Kathmandu Valley. Even after the government imposed a nationwide lockdown to control the spread of coronavirus infection, DoR managed to blacktop and repair roads inside the valley as well as outside. Keshab Kumar Sharma, director general of DoR, said all 33 divisions of the department were involved in some work on roads, bridges and periodic maintenance during the lockdown period. Some 41 km of road inside the capital valley has been blacktopped and repaired from March 24, 2020 to May 23, 2020, Sharma said, adding that works worth Rs 400 million had been completed within the period inside the valley alone. “Blacktopping and repair of roads inside the valley have been completed and only blacktopping work on the expanded roads is going on in various parts of the valley. Nearly one-third of the work of around 2,000 projects is currently underway across the country due to the barriers caused by the nationwide lockdown,” he said. Most of the manpower involved in the projects went home due to the lockdown amid the fear of coronavirus, which caused an obstruction in the ongoing projects. He said, “We have been mobilising the daily wage earners available in Kathmandu for the works in the valley, and local human resources for outside the valley. “We are working with limited number of human resources. We are also facing hardship in bringing raw materials. The workers are provided with Personal Protective Equipment (PPE). To maintain hygiene, there are hand washing facilities and social distance has been maintained in every site.” Health safety has been maintained while undertaking all this construction and repair work, Sharma said. “We have managed temperature check-up at every construction site," he added. Sharma said that the DoR had taken the work as a great achievement considering the current situation when the nation is in lockdown and when there is a shortage of manpower, he said. The target to repair and blacktop 41 km road inside the valley has been met as road maintenance was in priority, the department said. The repair and maintenance have been completed and only works relating to expansion are going on currently, Sharma said. Over 12,000 potholes were maintained inside the valley and now the Kathmandu city is free from potholes, he said. The department had a target to construct 30 km road inside the valley in the current fiscal year, but only 12 km has been built, he said. The lack of human resources and construction materials has made the work much challenging, he further noted.
Work to expand road is underway in Chabahil-Baudha-Jorpati, Jorpati-Sitapaila, Jorpati-Sankhu and Gwarko-Lubhu-Lamatar. Similarly, expansion of Tikabhairab-Lele and Nikoshera in Bhaktapur is also underway, the DoR said. Blacktopping and construction of roads at Dholahiti-Lele, Karmanasha Khola-Godawari Kunda, Imadol-Lamatar and Jorpati-Sundarijal have started. Construction is being undertaken by the division's office in close coordination with Kathmandu Upatyaka Khanepani Limited. In the current fiscal year, only 50 per cent of the total budget has been spent as the nationwide lockdown hampered ongoing construction work in most routes, Sharma said. “In earlier years, all the allocated budget would be spent but in the current fiscal year we have spent only 50 per cent of the total budget,” Sharma said. The Department has Rs 100.06 billion budget for the current fiscal year.